A great bag, a statement necklace, even a hot boyfriend—none of these “accessories” will get you further in life than a megawatt smile (just ask Julia Roberts). Dr. Marc Lowenberg, an NYC-based cosmetic dentist with Lowenberg, Lituchy & Kantor, is no newcomer to creating A-list smiles—Heidi Klum and Courtney Cox are just two of his star clients. So when he shared some of his best secrets for whiter teeth and fresher breath, we put down our daily cup(s) of coffee and listened. From a DIY teeth whitener to the alcohol that will get rid of bad breath, keep scrolling for his tips!
Though Lowenberg recommends Crest Whitestrips ($28) as a good at-home whitener, there’s another option that’s right in your kitchen. “Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide together to form a paste, then brush your teeth with the mixture to remove surface stains,” he says. If this method is too harsh on your gums, you can apply the paste to your teeth, allow it to sit for one to two minutes, then rinse it away with water. And, of course, don’t forget to brush with your everyday toothpaste as usual!
Feeling self-conscious about your teeth? Reach for some carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower. According to Lowenberg, raw, crunchy vegetables can help mechanically remove surface stains. (For more foods that magically whiten your teeth, click here.)
Know that a red wine-fueled night is in your future? Lowenberg shares this inside trick for keeping stains at bay: Coat your teeth with a very thin layer of Vaseline before sipping. Your teeth will remain white, and you can sip to your heart’s content—win-win! (Click here for more ways to avoid red wine stains on your teeth.)
Do you have a tongue scraper? No? You should probably get one ASAP, if you care about the freshness of your breath. (You can pick one up at your local drugstore.) According to Lowenberg, daily use will dislodge unpleasant plaque from “the fissures of your tongue.” (Um, gross.) The unique shape of a tongue scraper will remove more plaque and buildup from your tongue than your toothbrush (yes, we know you’ve been half-heartedly brushing your tongue with it—it’s not enough.)
Stop everything—Lowenberg says that vodka can actually kill bacteria in your mouth that causes bad breath. So next time you’re at the bar trying to impress someone (read: not scare them away your pizza breath), opt for vodka over other alcohols. But hold the cranberry mixer—Lowenberg says sugary mixers actually bind to your teeth and trigger odor-causing bacteria. So… shots, anyone?
Bad breath can be a result of many things, though your diet is usually one of the main culprits. “Eat parsley on a regular basis to combat bad breath that may be a result of digestion,” says Lowenberg. It’s a great source of chlorophyll, which has antibacterial properties and can mask particularly unpleasant odors stemming from bacteria.